More companies are becoming aware of the effects of business practices on society and are incorporating sustainable business methods. This includes the fashion industry, which is gearing up to fulfil its sustainability role. Corporate socially responsible initiatives are making their way into the global wardrobe, and traditional manufacturing practices which involved processing textiles in a way that added to land and water pollution and were destructive to the environment are gradually being replaced by eco-practices that have a minimal impact on the environment. Gail Taylor, an associate professor of the Institute of Textiles & Clothing at Polytechnic University (PolyU), said people were concerned about global warming and wanted to find some ways to exert control over the issue. 'Consumers are anxious to choose eco-friendly clothes - made from equally eco-friendly textiles - to reduce the impact of those chemicals,' Ms Taylor said. 'Most people are aware of the shift in favour of these textiles, but there is still a lot to do before fashionable and seasonal merchandise can be made more generally available.' This awareness is drawing the public in, and eco-textiles look set to become a long-term feature rather than a passing fad in the fashion scene, with more manufacturers and retailers following suit. 'Many manufacturers see eco-textile goods as a golden opportunity to seize market share,' Ms Taylor said. The positive response from the market and its corresponding surging demand, however, may stitch an undesirable patch on eco-textiles. 'The challenges are basically the supply and demand imbalance,' Ms Taylor said. 'The capacity of the manufacturer is too limited when faced with what amounts to popular demand, and 'safe' substitutes for products which fail to meet the new environmental rulings.' Manufacturers needed to meet import regulations to clear customs. Those that could not satisfy the testing house or independent accreditation agency might lose customers and run the risk of going out of business, she said. John Mowbray, editor of Ecotextile News magazine, said transparency of the supply chain, which western retailers and brands held tightly accountable to maintain their brand image, was important. Co-operation could cease without accreditation and qualitative testing. Eco-fashion is in its infancy, but buyers across Europe and the United States have been upgrading their knowledge on the subject, with Ecotextile News providing information and seminars. Hong Kong Fashion Week spring/summer 2009 is also engaging the services of experts on the topic, and one of the highlights of its seminars at the fair will be 'Eco-textiles - what brands and retailers want - and how to deliver', conducted by Michael Leow, an experienced trend-forecaster, chief executive of Creative Trends Services and a part-time lecturer at the Institute of Textiles & Clothing at PolyU. The seminar will be held on Friday. The seminar will focus on the types of fabrics that retailers want, motivation of these new trends, and suggestions on capitalising on these changes to ensure continuing and suitable supply to customers. Next year has been designated the year of the natural fibre by the United Nations. Other seminars will cover topics such as the influence of Italian retailing on the industry.